Investing.com - Gold prices rose in early in Asia on Monday ahead of a light week for much of the region and concern over the standoff between Russia and the Ukraine underpinning support.
Japan is due to observe a holiday on Tuesday, while most other parts of Asia will be closed on Thursday for Labour Day.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold for June delivery traded at $1,303.60 a troy ounce, up 0.22%, after settling last week at at $1,300.80 and reaching a daily high of $1,305.20 on Friday, the most since April 16.
Concerns over the conflict between Russian and Ukraine escalated on Friday after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Washington was ready to step up sanctions on Russia.
The West is accusing Russia of leading a separatist revolt in eastern Ukraine after it annexed Crimea last month.
Gold, seen as a safe haven investment, usually benefits from geopolitical turmoil.
Meanwhile, market players continued to monitor U.S. data for further indications on the strength of the economy and the future course of monetary policy.
Data on Friday showed that consumer confidence rose to a nine-month high in April, adding to signs that the economy is improving.
The University of Michigan reported that its consumer sentiment index came in at 84.1 this month, up from 80 in March and the preliminary reading of 82.6. Analysts had expected the index to rise to 83.0.
In the week ahead, investors will be looking ahead to Wednesday’s monetary policy announcement by the Federal Reserve amid speculation the central bank is likely to continue to scale back its stimulus program.
The U.S. will also release the monthly non-farm payrolls report for April later in the week as well as a preliminary estimate on first quarter economic growth.
Data from the Commodities Futures Trading Commission released Friday showed that hedge funds and money managers slightly increased their bullish bets in gold futures in the week ending April 22.
Net longs totaled 90,572 contracts, up 0.47% from net longs of 90,138 in the preceding week.
Also on the Comex, silver for June delivery traded at $19.735 an ounce, up 0.09%, after settling last week at $19.69. On the week, the May silver futures contract picked up 0.45%, or 9.1 cents an ounce.
Data from the CFTC showed that net silver longs rose to 2,620 contracts as of last week, up 37.2% from net longs of 1,645 in the preceding week.
Elsewhere in metals trading, copper for June delivery traded at $3.089 a pound, down 0.14%, after settling at a seven-week high of $3.124 a pound by close of trade on Friday.
On the week, Comex copper prices rallied 2.72%, or 8.5 cents a pound, amid speculation demand in top consumer China will strengthen in the near-term
April and May are seasonally strong months for copper consumption in China amid brisk construction activity. The Asian nation is the world’s largest copper consumer, accounting for almost 40% of world consumption last year.
According to the CFTC, net copper shorts totaled 3,527 contracts as of last week, compared to net shorts of 14,892 in the preceding week.
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